Gambling Addiction: Taking the Fantasy Out of Fantasy Football

Fantasy football players say that Draft Day is one of the most anticipated days of the year, according to a recent survey by SurveyMonkey and About 63% of the approximately 2,000 fantasy players surveyed described themselves as “big fans,” and 20% said Draft Day is the most anticipated day of their year–beating out Christmas and birthdays.

The fantasy football survey revealed other interesting statistics as well. Among people who play the game:

  • 29% spend at least an hour each week adjusting their lineups during work;
  • 65% check scores while in the bathroom;
  • 50% check scores over holiday dinners;
  • 36% check in on their teams during work meetings;
  • 33% play fantasy football to socialize with family and friends.

Fantasy football can trigger real-life consequences.

For many Americans, fantasy football is a fun way to enjoy a sport they love and connect with family and friends. For others, however, fantasy football can be a risky activity that contributes to problem gambling—a fact that may be surprising considering the game often takes place over a period of weeks and the primary payout usually comes to winners at season’s end.

In truth, any activity that stakes money on an outcome is gambling. It doesn’t matter if that money is staked on a poker game, lottery ticket, basketball tournament, or fantasy football league.

Last year, for example, The New York Times shared the story of a man with a gambling problem that spiraled out of control when he played fantasy football. The man eventually lost $20,000 on daily online fantasy sports games and additional tens of thousands on illegal sports bets.

Find gambling help in Lancaster, PA.

Are you worried that your fantasy football play is getting out of control? Are you concerned about a loved one’s betting behavior? Take the gambling risk quiz.

Let the Compass Mark team direct you to problem gambling treatment and prevention in Lancaster County, PA and Lebanon County, PA. For confidential, no-judgment guidance, call us at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


Simulated Gambling May Be a Gamble for Kids [Research]

Kids who play simulated gambling games, like free poker or casino-style games, are more likely to gamble and report gambling problems later in life, according to a recent discussion paper from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC). It also cited evidence suggesting about 20% of adolescents playing simulated gambling will transition to gambling for real money.

In addition, the authors note that the players reported the primary reason they move from simulated to commercial gambling is to win money. It’s worth noting that 25% of the teens who reported gambling for real money said they’d switched to simulated games to avoid losing money.

The AGRC’s Dr. Anna Thomas said in a release:

“Young people are being introduced to gambling at a far younger age than in previous generations when to be able to gamble you had to gain entry to a venue, meet dress codes and produce identification.

“Today people are much more likely to have a realistic gambling-type experience at a young age and this may increase the extent to which gambling is seen as normal, acceptable, attractive and relatively harmless.”

Reasons Free or Practice Games are a Gamble for Kids & Teens
  • These games reinforce winning behavior with credits or prizes but don’t expose players to the consequences of losses (i.e. losing real money).
  • Studies suggest free-to-play and practice games offer higher “payouts” than gambling that involves real money.
  • Researchers have found that players who gamble on free simulated games bet “significantly” more than other players when they later wager with real money.
  • Simulated games may give players an inflated sense of skill level, providing a confidence boost that attracts them to real money games—even though gambling success is based on luck and not skill.
Learn more about gambling in children and adolescents.

Tips for Parents of Teen Online Gamblers
Fantasy Football: Priming Kids for Problem Gambling?
Is Your College Student at Risk for Problem Gambling? How to Start a Conversation

If you’re a parent or loved one worried about a youth’s simulated play or real-money gambling, take this risk assessment quiz. For additional information, contact our team for free, confidential guidance.

Are you an educator, youth group leader, or other concerned professional? Compass Mark offers We Know BETter, a free gambling education and awareness program designed for children in grades 4-8. Learn more by contacting us at (717) 299-2831


2016 March Madness Bets Will Near $10 Billion—Is It a Gamble on Addiction?

Americans will wager an estimated $9.2 billion on March Madness in 2016, an increase from $9 billion in 2015, according to an industry association. What’s more, Americans will complete more than 70 million brackets this year—likely more than the estimated number of ballots that will be cast for any single candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

Millions of people will bet for fun in licensed gaming facilities, through wagering websites, and in office pools. But, for some, the NCAA tournament isn’t as harmless. The annual sports event has the potential to seriously impact the lives of many, including:

People at Risk for Problem Gambling

The wagering atmosphere can help nudge someone already vulnerable to gambling addiction into the condition. Learn more in Did March Madness Lead to April Sadness? Factors that boost the risk for compulsive gambling include:

  • Having current or past substance abuse;
  • Having a family history of addiction;
  • Experiencing physical, verbal, or sexual abuse;
  • Gambling for the first time at an early age;
  • Being a college student, senior, or military veteran;
  • Gambling as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, boredom, or loneliness;
  • Going through major life transitions, such as job loss, divorce, or the death of a loved one.
Gamblers in Recovery

People recovering from gambling problems can face relapse challenges during March Madness. From office pools to game-watching parties, gambling triggers might be hard to avoid. Use these strategies to help avoid relapse:

  • Make appointments to see your gambling addiction counselor regularly throughout tournament season.
  • Attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
  • If the games themselves trigger gambling cravings, find a healthy alternative activity during game time. For example, take a long walk, work on a house project, or enjoy a movie with a friend.
  • Excuse yourself from having lunch or break time with co-workers if you know they’ll be talking about office pools.
  • Keep resources for gambling help nearby. In Pennsylvania, call the PA Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-877-565-2112.
  • Contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 for Lancaster and Lebanon help resources, including prevention, education, intervention, and treatment.

Learn more about the potential risks of fantasy sports at Compass Mark’s Start the Conversation: Fantasy Sports Gamble on Wednesday, March 30, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This session, held at the Blair Room, 630 Janet Avenue, Lancaster, is worth 2 CEU credits.


Don’t Give Your Child the Gift of Problem Gambling: Avoid These Gift Ideas

With the number of shopping days ticking down, you may be wrapping up your holiday gift shopping over the next week or so. If you still have items to cross off your gift-giving list, you may want to check out this list of gifts with the potential to raise your child’s risk of developing problem gambling.

  • Scratch-off lottery tickets: Please don’t stuff kids’ stockings with lottery tickets! They might seem like harmless games, but research from Yale suggests high school students who had received them as gifts during childhood were more likely to struggle with problem gambling behaviors as teenagers. What’s more, additional research suggests that the earlier a child starts gambling, the higher his or her risk for developing a severe gambling addiction later in life.
  • Gambling-related toys: Avoid buying play slot machines, handheld electronic casino games, card-playing stuffed dogs (yes, an actual product), and slots-shaped piggy banks when you’re shopping for kids’ gifts this year. As with lottery tickets, gambling toys can seem harmless. However, they normalize a behavior that can become problematic later in life.
  • Gambling apps: Once again smartphones and tablets are high on wish lists for children and teens. If tech is on your holiday shopping agenda this year, avoid loading the device with apps that encourage gambling, even those apps that offer free-play games. (Researchers have found that free-play mode encourages players to bet higher amounts when wagering with real money later.) Use parental controls and monitoring software/services to ensure your child or teen isn’t downloading these apps on their own. Giving tech to a college student? Start a conversation with him or her about the dangers of unhealthy gambling behavior—just as you’d speak to them about drinking alcohol or unprotected sex. (Learn 4 Tips for Talking with Your College Kid About Problem Gambling.)
Compulsive Gambling Prevention, Treatment in Lancaster, PA & Lebanon, PA

If you have questions about preventing gambling addiction in children and college students or if you need addiction referrals in the Lancaster-Lebanon area, contact Compass Mark. Our team is here to help parents, caregivers, educators, and health care professionals find treatment and prevention resources. Call 717-299-2831 or get in touch using this online help form.



Gambler’s Fallacies More Common in Online Poker Players [Research]

Online gamblers appear more prone to believing common gambling fallacies, according to a recent study reviewed on WAGER (The Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report).

The researchers, who analyzed 111 online poker players and 167 players at live card tables, asked each participant to complete an inventory surveying their belief in four common gambler’s fallacies, including examples such as:

  • “If you are having a losing streak, you should keep gambling.”
  • “Staying at a machine increases your chances of winning.”
  • “A winning attitude will improve my chances in gambling.”
  • “If I use special rituals, I can avoid bad luck.”

Those in the online poker group were significantly more likely to agree with the distorted statements than those who played offline. What’s more, the researchers found the online group was more likely to rate their own poker skills higher than the offline group did, even though both groups were assessed as having the same empirical skill level.

Why did the online players more readily believe in gambler’s fallacies? As noted on WAGER, one potential reason is that online poker players may be more likely to play in isolation, without as much opportunity to trade ideas, tips, or information with a network of other players.

Problem gambling is treatable.

Fallacies, or misperceptions about gambling, are considered a cognitive distortion that contributes to unhealthy or compulsive betting behavior. Treatment, often in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can retrain the brain to be aware of these misperceptions to better control the urge to bet.

You or a loved one can heal from problem gambling. Professional therapy is considered the foundation for problem gambling treatment, however there are a number of additional ways to support recovery and reduce the urge to gamble, including support groups (like Gamblers Anonymous), positive lifestyle changes (such as reducing stress or anxiety), and family/marriage therapy.

To find out if you or a loved one is at risk for developing this addiction, take the quiz on our home page.

Visit our Treatment Resources to locate a provider trained to work with gambling addiction in Lancaster, Lebanon, and the surrounding areas.

For compulsive gambling prevention, education, or confidential help, contact Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 or fill out the easy online help form.


Online Gambling Addiction: 8 Warning Signs

As access to legal online gambling increases, the risk for unhealthy gambling behavior increases as well. Here are warning signs that you or someone you love might be at risk for problem gambling:

1. Spending increasing amounts of time betting online or using gambling-type apps;

2. Minimizing browser screens when someone comes nearby;

3. Experiencing mood swings based on wins or losses;

4. Increasingly obsessed with gambling-type apps, even those that allow free-play;

5. Gambling online as part of the daily routine (for example, always playing over lunch or during a child’s sports practice);

6. Lying or acting evasively about time or money spent online;

7. Calling in sick to stay home and gamble online or play gambling apps;

8. Increasing debt.

To find out if you or someone you care about is at risk for developing problem gambling, take the SafeStakes Gambling Risk Quiz. If the results suggest you’re in danger of developing a gambling problem, it’s never too early or too late to seek help. Contact Compass Mark for confidential guidance and help resources in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA. Call our team at 717-299-2831 or fill out a Gambling Addiction Help Form.


6 Red Flags for Gamblers: When Is It Too Much?

A slurred word here. A wobbly movement there. Addiction to substances often provides physical clues—to the addict and those around him or her—that there’s a problem. However, when it comes to behavior-related addictions, such as gambling, those clues can be a bit tougher to pinpoint. Here are six signs it might be time to get help for problem gambling:

1. Gambling has become part of your routine.
Perhaps you gamble online regularly during lunch breaks, or maybe you’re at the racetrack or off-track wagering facility every weekend. If betting has wormed its way into a regular routine, you may be at higher risk for compulsive gambling.

2. You binge gamble.
Problem gamblers don’t necessarily need to wager every day. In fact, some experience gamble-free periods that are interrupted by binges that last days or weeks. Whenever a person goes through periods of uncontrolled gambling, it’s time to consider professional help.

3. You lose sleep because of gambling-related problems.
Whether you lost the paycheck to slots or got into hot water at work because you were late after a night-long online poker binge, the anxiety and stress may be interrupting your shut-eye–another gambling addiction red flag.

4. You and loved ones argue about your gambling behavior.
From money spats to accusations you’re sidestepping responsibilities, unhealthy gambling sparks conflict. Even if you feel your loved one is in the wrong, the fact that they’re noticing the consequences of gambling and confronting you about them suggests it’s time to seek help.

5. You’ve started drinking more alcohol.
It’s estimated up to 25% of people with one addiction will develop addiction to an additional behavior or substance. Unhealthy gambling creates stress—and some gamblers deal with it by turning to alcohol. If you’re drinking more than you did previously, that’s another warning sign to consult a treatment professional.

6. You lose track of time while gambling.
Winning or losing, when the brain gets into a “groove” it’s easy to lose track of time, and, in turn, money wagered. When a person regularly loses track of time while playing, it’s time to consider gambling help.

To learn if you’re at risk for gambling addiction, take the simple quiz on our home page.

You don’t need to hit “rock bottom” to start healing from problem gambling. The sooner you seek help the better your chance for long-term recovery—emotionally, physically, and financially. Contact a professional therapist trained to help those with gambling addiction by visiting Treatment Providers.

For judgment-free, confidential guidance to additional problem gambling resources in Lancaster County, PA or Lebanon County, PA, call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our online help form.

Some Online Gamblers More Likely to Chase Losses Than Others [Addiction Research]

Some online gamblers may be more likely to chase losses than others, according to a study recently reviewed on The Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER). The researchers, who collected data on nearly 11,000 online gamblers, found that those who played online casinos were more likely to chase losses than those who played only online poker.

Why the difference? The study’s authors note that the poker players might be less likely because, in part, poker books, tutorials, and websites warn gamblers against the dangers of chasing losses.

In addition, the researchers found that gamblers who were more prone to chasing losses were also more likely to believe in two common fallacies connected to gambling addiction. The first is the Gambler’s Fallacy, which is the idea that the gambler is “due” for a win after a losing streak, and the second is known as the Hot Hand Fallacy, in which the gambler believes that a lucky streak will continue to produce wins.

Warning Signs of Gambling Addiction

Chasing losses is just one warning sign of compulsive gambling. Here are other red flags that indicate gambling is having a serious negative impact on a person’s life:

  • Declining performance at school or in the workplace;
  • Withdrawing from family & friends;
  • Being secretive about time or money spent gambling;
  • Gambling after the money runs out;
  • Borrowing money from family, friends, colleagues, or peers;
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop on his/her own.

Find out whether you or a loved one is at risk by taking the quiz on our home page.

Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Problem gambling can be treated by a counselor trained specifically to work with this condition. Talk therapy is usually the foundation for treatment, but additional strategies may help support recovery as well. A gambling addiction counselor might recommend self-help group meetings (like Gamblers Anonymous), stress relief techniques, financial counseling, and/or family therapy.

If you’re an educator, health care professional, or employer, Compass Mark offers gambling addiction resources in Lancaster County and Lebanon County. Whether you need prevention materials or treatment referrals, our team will guide you in the right direction. Contact us at (717) 299-2831.


Gambling Apps: Tips for Parents Giving Kids Tech for the Holidays

Tablet? Smartphone? Laptop? What’s on your child’s holiday list this year? Tech is always a hot item, especially among tweens and teens. As a parent or caregiver, you’ve probably already considered the potential downsides of giving a device to the same kid who can’t remember to throw their dirty socks in the hamper. But there may be an additional trouble spot you haven’t considered yet: gambling apps.

The Problem of Problem Gambling

The earlier in life a child starts to gamble, the higher their risk for later developing gambling addiction, a debilitating condition in which a person cannot control the urge to bet. Researchers have found that the brains of compulsive gamblers show activity similar to that of those addicted to drugs. From relationships to finances, the condition affects every aspect of the gambler’s life—and the lives of his or her loved ones. Learn more in What is Gambling Addiction?

Why Gambling Apps Should Be On Your Radar

Apps for gambling introduce kids and their still-developing brains to the excitement of gambling. One recent study found teens that played simulated gambling games were at higher risk for problem gambling.

Casino-type games, including slots and poker, are easily accessible through smartphones, tablets, and other devices. While game designers and marketers say these apps are not intended for children, few games have effective age-verification systems in place, making it simple for kids to download and play them.

Tech Tips for Parents

  • Know how to use the device’s parental controls. Make time to get familiar with monitoring or blocking features, and learn how to set the controls. If the device doesn’t have them installed already, download blocking or monitoring software.
  • Understand that free-play apps aren’t necessarily safer. Gambling apps that don’t require the use of real money might also contribute to unhealthy behavior. Research suggests that gamblers who play in free-play or demo/practice mode place higher bets later when they wager with real money.
  • Talk with your child about gambling, even if you’re utilizing parental controls. Just because a child or teenager can’t access gambling apps through their own device doesn’t mean they won’t access them through friends’ tech. So just as you’d have a conversation about using alcohol and other drugs, have a discussion about the potential danger of casino-type apps and problem gambling. Make sure you have this conversation with your college-age kids, too!

Learn more so you can help your child make healthy decisions about gambling. Check out:

How to Prevent Teen Gambling—A Parent’s Guide

Gambling Myths—Are They Getting a Teen You Know Into Trouble?

4 Tips for Talking with Your College Kid about Problem Gambling

For additional problem gambling prevention or treatment resources in Lancaster or Lebanon, call Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 or submit this simple help form.


Seniors and Problem Gambling- Need-to-Know Info for Families

She’s a stubborn old bird, too set in her ways to stop playing slots.”

Dad is 70 years old—he’ll never change.”

When it comes to seniors and problem gambling, these are common—and ultimately harmful—misconceptions. Why? Because gambling addiction is preventable and treatable, regardless of factors like age or gender.

Gambling can be a harmless form of entertainment. For some, however, it has devastating consequences. Just as an alcohol-addicted person cannot control their drinking behavior, someone addicted to gambling can’t resist the urge to wager, often putting their relationships, career, and finances at risk. Problem gamblers may feel they live alone with their struggle or they may be afraid to ask for help, making them more vulnerable to clinical depression, substance abuse, and suicide.

Learn if a senior you love is at risk by taking the quiz on the SafeStakes home page.

Why Seniors Gamble

Addiction in any form is complex, and typically many factors play a role in its development. Seniors, in particular, may be more vulnerable to gambling problems when they:

  • Feel lonely or isolated
  • Lack stimulating activities
  • Feel depressed or anxious
  • Struggle with clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse
  • Believe gambling will help them make money
  • Feel that they deserve to “have fun” after years of working and/or raising a family
  • Take specific medications that increase the risk of impulsive behavior
  • Have a family history of addiction

How Older Americans Gamble

Before the rise of online gambling and mobile devices, seniors gambled at casinos, race tracks, or other licensed facilities. Others played bingo or the lottery.

While older Americans still utilize those venues, they now have far greater access to games, from poker to slots. A few states, like New Jersey, have launched legal online gambling. Seniors can gamble online using offshore websites as well. Gambling apps also provide a way to play—24/7/365.

Warning Signs of Gambling Addiction in Seniors

  • Increasingly preoccupied with gambling
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, and activities they used to enjoy
  • Gambling alone
  • Unwilling or unable to account for periods of time
  • Tapping into retirement savings or other assets
  • Selling valuables or family heirlooms
  • Unable or unwilling to buy necessary medication
  • Increasingly poor personal hygiene

Treatment for Addicted Seniors

It is never too late to reach out for help. It’s especially important to find professional treatment for seniors—they have less time to rebuild financial stability and the stress of the addiction may worsen any health conditions they’re already dealing with.

Find problem gambling recovery resources in Lancaster, Lebanon, and the surrounding area by visiting our Treatment Page.  For more education, prevention, and treatment resources, call Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 or submit a help form. Take action now to help guide the one you love toward a life free from addiction. Our assistance is free and confidential.